Sunday, 29 June 2008

Euro 2008 promotions and media coverage in Sweden shows what we missed in England

Sweden were in Euro 2008 and the media and marketing activity around the tournament showed what we missed as a result of England not qualifying.

The Independent claimed that England not qualifying for Euro 2008 was 'expected to cost the economy between £1bn and £2bn, accounting for as much as half a percentage point off the UK gross domestic product.' The Independent also states that profits at retailers like Sports Direct and JJB Sports would be severely affected whilst advertising revenues would also be hit - especially at ITV where it could see ITV lose 'upwards of 10m in advertising revenue due to reduced audience interest.'

These are just figures on paper though. I have just spent the last 2 weeks in Sweden and seeing how much excitement there was around Euro 2008 makes me realise how flat it was in the UK.

1) Novelty Euro 2008 football songs

England not qualifying meant there were no England songs in the UK charts. Traditionally there are a plethora of tournament related musical offerings, but this time there was little public interest in a re-release of Three Lions etc. Sweden has served as a reminder of what we have been missing as the Swedish top 10 has been dominated by Euro 2008.

The number one album has been 'Absolute Football Anthems'

and the singles chart has had various football related entries from Swedish acts like Markoolio and Frans feat Elias. There has also been a return for Rednex (the group behind 'Cotton Eye Joe'). Rednex got to number one in Sweden with a song called 'Football is our religion.' The video is below - enjoy!

2) Player endorsement of products

During a major football tournament we are used to seeing the faces of English players like David Beckham and Michael Owen appearing in everything from ads for ASDA through to sports equipment and products like Pepsi - but with England not qualifying there were few (if any) topical football ads. Player endorsement was evident in Sweden over Euro 2008, however whilst Swedish media coverage of the Sweden team focussed on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, there is no doubt who the Swedish advertising poster boy is. Freddie Ljungberg has been on a wide range of products including using a variety of poses on Pepsi Max bottles as well as appearing on random cardboard cut outs.

3) Football related marketing

A number of Swedish products piggybacked Euro 2008 with their advertising and packaging. I was particularly impressed with Norrlands Guld lager. Norrlands Guld is literally translated as North Lands Gold. Originating from the North of Sweden, through various tongue in cheek, Swedish themed advertising Norrlands Guld has become one of the most popular beers in Sweden.

For Euro 2008 packaging was changed and an ad campaign was created around the theme of 'Nu Vi Tar Guuuld!' (now we take gold).

A typically over the top 3 minute TV ad was shown featuring traditional Swedish scenes, fighter planes, mountains, hordes of people and a rock song entitled 'Nu tar vi Guuuld'. This activity was then supported with a Euro 2008 themed blog, the song was made available for download and the video was uploaded to YouTube (receiving 86,000 views to date):

4) Swedish TV coverage

Sweden's largest commercial broadcaster TV4 covered Euro 2008 in Sweden. They showed matches every night, covered all the games and showed full repeats the following morning. TV4 also suffered the same loss of semi-final coverage as the UK (though it was little use to me when they went to a Swedish radio commentary whilst the picture was missing!)

TV4 also produced a discussion programme called 'EM Magasinet' after every match. Broadcast from an outdoor location every night in Stockholm, in my eyes it compared favourably to the UK coverage. A modern and stylish set plus a rotating panel of guests including ex-Man City Assistant Manager Hans Backe, current Swedish players like Rami Shaaban and Swedish legends like Martin Dahlin kept the programme fresh and different every night. TV4 also had female discussion participants like Anna Brolin - a massive (and refreshing) change to the English diet of regulars like Hansen and Alan Shearer!

5) Euro 2008 merchandise and collectables

Sweden has been full of football related merchandise. Everywhere you looked there were hats, flags, t-shirts, cups and even Sweden deckchairs for sale. There was also a full range of collectable memorabilia for sale on the 'Fotbollsfeber' (Football Fever) stand - stickers, trading cards, mini figures etc (I also never realised that the Panini sticker collections are the same all over Europe!)

There was an obvious contrast to the merchandise available in English shops especially after I saw this rather sad sign in our local Woolworths just before the tournament started:

I enjoyed watching the tournament in Sweden and it was great to be in a place where Euro 2008 was front page news every day, rather than in the UK where the semi-final reports only managed to make pages 8 and 9 of the Daily Telegraph sport section. And whilst much of the Swedish Euro 2008 marketing was generally as expected, but there were some interesting new ideas.

I thought Euro 2008 was a great tournament and I enjoyed watching it in Sweden, but I hope Fabio Capello can now sort things out and make sure England qualify for the World Cup - though after seeing this house in Hayes yesterday I guess for some people it doesn't matter whether England qualify or not!

Other posts I have written on Euro 2008:

- Seven Nation Army is the unofficial Euro 2008 theme:

- Google add 3D Euro 2008 stadiums to Google Earth:

- Euro 2008 - digital developments around the tournament:

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